Crystal Palace 1, Brentford 1

Above: photograph; Brentford FC

New season: too close for comfort

Falling behind and having to play catch-up is a sequence established by the Bees in their first game of the season, when they almost squeaked a victory over Leicester. Memorable, it was, too, but this late escape – the third in five League games – was possibly one too far, no matter that temporarily left them comfortable in tenth place.

Those of us who followed the match on live TV, rather than braving the depths of south London, saw a keen contest, in which both sides threatened the opposing goal only occasionally during the first half. Palace Midfielder Michael Olise came closest with a shot that hit the post, influenced perhaps by the Bees’ near-misses against Everton.

But with around 88 minutes gone Palace demonstrated their increasing authority when Wilfried Zaha collected a pass from Cheick Doucouré and shook off Hickey for the first time before scoring what must be one of the finest goals seen in the PL so far this season.

His shot, bending wickedly into Raya’s far corner, should have been the signal for Palace to go on to greater things. Instead, they attempted to shut up shop and coast home on a slender margin. Bad call, and one that infuriated Zaha, who afterwards complained that his side should have tried to plunder another goal. ‘We just killed ourselves in the end,’ he told Sky Sport.

Well, not exactly. Palace’s rear-guard policy allowed Brentford to swarm forward and create a handful of chances, the pick of which came two minutes from the end of normal time when Vitaly Janelt’s cross was converted by Yoane Wissa, unmarked at the far post.

Then in the dying seconds Ben Dee joined the woodwork class with a header that hit a post.

‘Palace’s tactics could have made that the winner,’ I told my mate Charlie.

‘Would have served ‘em right,’ said Charlie.

Crystal Palace: Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Ward; Doucouré; Olise (sub Mitchell 80), Schlupp (Milivojević 76), Eze (J Ayew 76), Zaha; Mateta (Ḗdouard, 54).

Brentford: Raya; Hickey (Ghodos 29) M Jorgensen, Mee, Henry; Baptiste (Damsgaard 58), Janelt, Jensen (Wissa 69); Mbeumo (Onyeka 68), Toney, Lewis-Potter (Dasilva 68).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group.

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